Kids preview: The Big Picture Show

Glasgow's Tramway is playing host to a month-long celebration of artists' moving image, with specially programmed events for children, young people and parents.

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Kids Preview: The Big Picture Show

Still from Len Lye, Rainbow Dance, 1936. Courtesy of the artist and LUX

With works hailing from the 1930s to present day, The Big Picture Show takes a broad look at artists' moving image. Developed by Lux Scotland, in collaboration with the artists themselves and their children, the month-long show combines screenings with hands-on fun. Lux's Eilidh Ratcliffe tells us all about it.

For those who may not have come across the term before, how would you describe 'artists' moving image'?
On the simplest of levels it's film or video work made by artists. Artists' moving image has a rich history which spans early experimental and avant garde cinema, underground film and conceptual video from the 1960s, subversive forms of film-making practice through to the work of contemporary artists practicing today.

It can include performance, installation, documentary, animation and narrative. Sitting outside of mainstream film production and consumption, it's a very distinct, yet not marginalised form of cultural practice, approached as an art form in its own right, as much as traditional mediums such as painting and sculpture.

In what way do you feel it appeals to younger audiences?
One of the artists, Margaret Salmon, who features in our second programme of films [Once Upon a Time, 29 Nov–4 Dec] sums up nicely why artists' moving image is uniquely placed to engage children and young people: 'It's essential in the promotion of a healthy culture, both now and in the future, to provide young audiences with rich, considered and inventive forms of moving image. Typically using film as a creative platform for ideas, observations, emotions and values, artists are uniquely positioned to provide these resources, for both children and adults. Artists' film can question and celebrate, in imaginative and non-commercial voices, what it's like to be human, and sharing these films with younger audiences opens up countless avenues for discussions, learning and fun.'

The Big Picture Show features work spanning over 80 years - will this give visitors an insight not only into work created during that time, but the world the artists lived in?
The breadth of the programme not only speaks to the changing forms and concerns of artists' films, but also to how they have responded and related to the times in which they were produced.

The earliest works in the programme were made in the 1930s, including Len Lye's A Colour Box (1935) and Rainbow Dance (1936). Both of these works were commissioned by the General Post Office Film Unit to advertise the postal system. These works represent Lye's first experiments with painting directly onto the film stock, so even these very early innovative techniques by artists were finding their way into broader mainstream culture and industry in really exciting ways.

These works were also some of the first to use colour film, so they would have been really special advertisements for the general public to see. With the dynamic colours and textures dancing across the screen to popular music, these films represented a way to bring abstract film to audiences in a more accessible way.

Other works in the programme, including John Smith's The Girl Chewing Gum (1976) can also be seen to reflect our own evolving relationship with film over the decades, as Smith exposes and parodies mainstream cinema's illusionism and control over audience perception. Instead, Smith gives us a very funny scene in which the dominant voice of the director absurdly struggles to keep up with the real action, over which he has no control.

In turn, a work such as Margaret Salmon's Oyster (2014), reflects on the unique history of the native oyster and the industry and traditions surrounding it, which are now sadly dying out.

You've divided The Big Picture Show programme into three age ranges: 0–8, 4–12 and 8–15 years. Why is that?
The programme is divided into three age ranges not only to allow works to be grouped around key themes, but also to allow slightly older audiences to see and think about the works in more conceptual ways.

Each programme contains ideas around artists' moving image; from experimentation and form, storytelling, to ideas of performance and our relationship to the camera.

But The Big Picture Show isn't just about watching, is it? Children and young people can get creative themselves – in what ways?
Artists' moving image really seeks to engage its audiences in new, different or unique ways. Therefore the process of seeing, making and thinking lies at the centre – so it's great for children and younger audiences to have a free and creative space to experiment with some of these ideas first-hand.

Also, the practical and tactile nature of filmmaking is an exciting element for children, so we hope the workshops programmed around the exhibition give them a more interactive way to engage with the programme and its ideas.

We're particularly excited about working with Turner prize nominated artist, Marvin Gaye Chetwynd on a workshop with local children around notions of performance and play. We'll be advertising for participants soon, so please keep your eyes out to take part!

Tramway, Glasgow until Sun 11 Dec. To take part, visit the Tramway website.

The Big Picture Show

A season of artists' moving image works, programmed for kids and parents.

Tramway, Glasgow

Thu 8 Dec

Free / 0845 330 3501

Fri 9 Dec

Free / 0845 330 3501

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